The November 23 deadline for the Super Committee to make a deal is fast approaching. The group must find $1.5 trillion in savings from the federal budget. Failure to propose and pass legislation will trigger across-the-board cuts in domestic spending and defense.
While many bipartisan groups and media outlets have been pushing the Super Committee to “Go Big” by agreeing on closer to $3 trillion in savings, we should not expect the committee to reach a grand compromise. The best interest of both Republicans and Democrats is to keep kicking the can down the road.
With voters focused on jobs, Republicans are betting on a bad economy to rout Obama in the 2012 elections. The GOP knows that President Barack Obama will lose easily in swing states in the general election if voters are still concerned with the economy. According to a recent Bloomberg poll, Mitt Romney will beat Obama by 10 percent in New Hampshire (a state the President carried by 9 percent in 2008) if voters remain concerned primarily with unemployment and the current economic conditions. As a result, Republicans have incentive to extend the budget stalemate until they can regain control of Congress and the White House.
Similarly, President Barack Obama and the Democrats want to blame the state of our economy on Republicans and their inability to put forward concrete proposals since sweeping into the House in the 2010 midterms. The recent reelection of incumbent Democratic governors and mayors earlier this month shows that this strategy can work, despite Americans’ deep frustrations about the economy. Obama’s camp believes that the state and local elections show that Americans are afraid of the Tea Party-led Republican Party’s proposals. Disapproval of Republicans in Congress is at a staggering 76 percent. For this narrative to take hold, they need Republicans to continue to block all of their proposals, and consequently, they have little incentive to reach a deal before the deadline.
The sad reality is that the 2012 elections dynamics have left both the Republicans and the Democrats uninterested in reaching a deal. Even with 20 million Americans unemployed and no concrete plan to pay for the $14 trillion national debt, our parties have managed to corner themselves into a position where inaction is their “best” alternative.
Meanwhile, unfortunately for us, our salaries, our communities, and our long-term prospects, our economy will remain on hold. The Super Committee will most likely come to a minimum agreement that finds $1.5 trillion in cuts (probably through accounting gimmicks) and avoids the automatic triggers. It will not ‘Go Big’ and agree to a deal that puts a significant dent into our national debt. Our parties will continue to kick the can down the road, hoping to pick up a few points in the polls at the other party’s expense.
The problem is, our failure to answer the question of who will pay our long-term debt leaves individuals and corporation unable to plan for the future and unable to grow.